Friday, 6 August 2010

Google WAVES Good-Bye

Google promised to change communications with Wave, but instead the service has reached an untimely death.I was shocked when I saw the above heading on one of the news items yesterday. I remember I saw an online video of a demo of Wave mid last year. I was very curious and anxious to try it. However, I could not find out how to join! It was apparently by invitation only. Then I forgot about it – until yesterday. So that online video turned out to be my first and last encounter with the great Wave.

Someone sited top 11 reasons why Wave failed. I believe the top reason for me is the missing marketing of the product. Every now and then I would receive promotional emails on my Gmail account about Google Ads. But there has been nothing about Wave. I have resisted the temptation to put it on my blog thus far – mainly because I am too lazy and the traffic to my blog is very low (maybe 60 per day and half of them are from crawlers).

If you take a closer look to how Google works internally, it does not seem so surprising. It is part of Google’s corporate policy to have their employees spend up to 20% of their time to work on any thing that they think interesting. If the management thinks the project has potential, the company will resource and fund it. No doubt Wave was born out of such conditions. So it’s created by nerds for nerds. The Google management probably hoped that it would one day take on the likes of Facebook. Being a nerd I don’t mind the complexity and learning curve – in fact, that’s what draws me to it. But by definition, nerds are not great social networkers – e.g. I joined Facebook and Twitter to test their APIs. That definitely reduced the appeal of Wave.

Also, the near zero marketing of Wave is no surprise considering how Google makes money – through advertising. That is why they advertise Google Ads and leave the other pet projects live and die on their own. From the days Larry and Sergey started Google, they had been focusing on technical superiority rather than monetisation. That had worked on the search engine since it was so far ahead than the others and the user experience is extremely simple. The contrary is true for Wave. So to let Wave catch up with its competitors purely based on its own merit without any marketing will require some time – much longer than the 1 year that Google had given it so far. Even the search engine did not catch on on day one – Larry and Sergey spent their doctorate years in uni to develop the product.

Now that the Wave is flushed down the toilet, I wonder what the Google people in Sydney are doing these days.

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